Well-trained or not, Inline skaters ready to rollGeorge Hovland was visiting Austria more than a decade ago when he discovered an inline skating festival.
By: Matt Suoja, Lake County News Chronicle
George Hovland was visiting Austria more than a decade ago when he discovered an inline skating festival.
Much of the event involved skaters performing various tricks, but there was another part to it: races.
Like a lightening bolt, Hovland says he was struck with the idea of a NorthShore Inline Marathon, he told the News-Chronicle this week.
“They have Grandma’s here. Inline should appeal to even more,” he said.
Per capita, considering the overall popularity of running versus skating, he may have a point. The NorthShore Inline Marathon is that sport’s third largest event in the world.
This weekend, beginning at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, his idea will reawaken for the 14th time at the Two Harbors starting line.
Hovland said the route goes from Two Harbors to Duluth because of the solid pavement needed for inline skating, adding that all the things that work for Grandma’s Marathon work for the inline variety.
Some 3,000 skaters are expected to participate in the half and full marathons this year, race officials said. That number is down about 200 from previous years, but not as bad as once projected.
“In this economic climate, it’s a rousing success,” said Tara Alfonsi, the new executive director for the marathon.
Though Hovland’s original prediction of outdrawing Grandma’s hasn’t been realized many locals still like to participate. Why?
Mary Lundgren, 50, of Two Harbors, had one theory.
“It’s fun because you know you’re not going to get hit by a car,” she said.
Lundgren said she has participated in the event 10 or 11 times and would be happy to get the race in less than three hours. And she said she doesn’t do much to train except walking fast, adding that her inline training begins on the first part of the race.
Silver Bay’s Duane Robinson, 55, is another local entrant.
He trains quite differently than Lundgren – he actually trains. He said he starts six weeks in advance and practices three or four times a week.
“[I participate] for fun and it’s conveniently close,” he said. “It’s challenging to do.”
For more information about the NorthShore Inline Marathon, visit www.northshoreinline.com.